Was going back over Daniel Ellsberg’s excellent book, “Secrets: A Memoir Of Vietnam And The Pentagon Papers” and the following jumped out at me.
“He saw Nixon as intending and expecting by his threats to keep South Vietnam safe for the indefinite presence of large numbers of U.S. troops — from fifty thousand, at a minimum, to two hundred thousand — in a permanent conflict, a stalemated war at reduced costs to American taxpayers with very low U.S. casualties. Alternatively, Nixon hoped, as the DRV recognized it couldn’t use NVA units in South Vietnam without suffering inordinately in the North, this might change its position on mutual withdrawal and it might seek a formal settlement on U.S terms. Under either track, total U.S. withdrawal of combat troops, ever, was strictly conditional on mutual withdrawal by the North Vietnamese; without that, Nixon intended to keep sizable residual U.S. forces in South Vietnam indefinitely, as in Korea.” (Secrets, pg. 259)
Nixon’s campaign pledge to bring the troops home from Vietnam was a lie. A hoax. It gets a little twisted when you make one thing conditional upon another, like bringing American troops home from Vietnam based upon the success of “vietnamization,” or bringing U.S. troops back from Afghanistan, based upon the success of the corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai.
Feels like deja vu all over again, doesn’t it? Let’s see, Congress had to repeal the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and cut off funding to finally get us out of Vietnam. And even then, congressional action came only after millions of Americans took to the streets to protest our continued involvement in the war. Wonder what it will take to get us out of our current quagmire in the Middle East? Not that there are any similarities.
Anyway, nobody seems to care all that much about Afghanistan and Iraq anymore. Even though they continue draining our treasury of billions of dollars each and every month. And people continue to die, both ours and theirs. No, we have more important things to worry about, like the debt ceiling “crisis,” gay marriage, abortion, getting God back into government, and the need to oppose tax hikes on the rich (many of whom are invested in the wars). Imagine that.
And what about al Qaida? Remember those guys? Why did they suddenly become irrelevant to the national political discourse? Is it because Osama bin Laden is dead and his organization has been devastated? Then why do we continue pouring money into conventional warfare, ostensibly to fight an international criminal conspiracy like the al Qaida? Shouldn’t we pull our conventional forces out, saving the country billions of dollars? Why isn’t anybody talking about any of this? Could it be there are those in positions of power who want us to remain engaged in both Afghanistan and Iraq, indefinitely? Do ya think?
DRV – Democratic Republic of Vietnam (north vietnam)
NVA – North Vietnamese Army